What started out as a season-opening toe-to-toe gridiron battle between Holden and Sherwood ended as an Eagles blowout victory by the score of 55-14 on Friday, August 25.
With the score at knotted at 14-14 early in the second quarter, the Holden tilted the turf in its favor to take control of the game, allowing the Eagles to imprint a signature win on the new artificial turf of Holden football stadium.
“It was added pressure, but I love that,” said Holden football head coach David Diener after the initial win on the newly remodeled field. “I was really proud of how hard our kids played all game. They rallied each other. I really think that was a key to this game, was just our relentless effort. They were able to match it early, but eventually, we won out. It takes a lot of mental toughness to do that, and I’m proud of how our boys were able to keep the petal down.”
Holden struck first on the scoreboard when senior quarterback Aiden Morarity found sophomore receiver Cohen Drake in the end zone for a touchdown reception, marking the first-ever touchdown scored on the artificial turf that was installed on the football field over the summer.
Catches by Holden receivers Kasyn Tevis and senior CJ Reifsteck, along with a rushing attempt by senior running back Reco Jenkins and a first-down carry by running back Sam Comer kept the scoring drive going.
Reifsteck’s 10-yard catch moved the chains to help overcome an early false start penalty against the Eagles.
“That got me going for sure,” said Reifsteck of the early reception. “It just moved us forward. We hadn’t had that yet, so it definitely brought the team together.”
Sherwood would answer with a score of its own on a 72-yard touchdown pass. Both teams failed to convert the point-after tries on their initial scores, leaving the score at 6-6.
The next score for Holden came on an end around play handled by Reifsteck late in the first quarter. Morarity converted the two-point try on a quarterback keep.
The Marksmen would tie the score at 14-14 on a 75-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion with 4:09 remaining in the first quarter.
“The thing about early with their scores, defenses are going to give up points, offenses are going to go three-and-out, but when you pair those together, that’s when teams will get away from you,” said coach Diener. “What was so great about tonight is every time the defense did give up a big pop, our offense responded with a score of their own every single time. It just never let them (Sherwood) breathe.
“It’s great to see our defense get the stops, and I do know there are a lot of new faces over there, new guys in different spots. I knew that there was going to be some growing pains there, but this is our best practice is Friday night, and as the game went on, they kept getting better and better.”
A drive for the Eagles that started in the first quarter after Sherwood’s second touchdown and extended into the second period ended with Jenkins carrying the ball into the end zone on a first-and-goal play from the five-yard line. Senior Lane Inglis kicked the point-after to give the Eagles a 21-14 lead.
“I was just glad to be up, and really wanted the team to get going so I think that pushed them,” said Jenkins in regard to the touchdown which represented both his first of four touchdowns on the night, as well as a spark for the team. “We got it going real quick.”
Reifsteck added, “It definitely a pace for the rest of the game.”
Jenkins’s touchdown would be the tilting point in the game. Sherwood ran out of arrows at that point as Holden quelled the quills of the Marksmen.
Jenkins add a two-yard touchdown run later in the second quarter.
Tevis would close out scoring in the first half on a touchdown reception from Morarity with under three minutes to play in the first half. A failed extra-point attempt set the halftime score at 33-14.
As the Eagles defense held the Marksmen scoreless, the Holden offense added a third-quarter score on a Jenkins touchdown run that was followed by a catch by senior Lane Siemer on the two-point conversion.
After a failed drive by the Marksmen that ended in a punt, Holden scored again on a 64-yard touchdown run by Jenkins. Jenkins carried for the conversion to give the Eagles a 49-14 advantage, and to bring about a running clock with Holden ahead by 35 points.
The Eagles defense continued to show its teeth on the first play of the fourth quarter when junior defensive back Kale Tryon intercepted a Sherwood pass and returned it to the end zone for an apparent score. A penalty against Holden after the interception and during the run back nullified the touchdown.
On Holden’s first play after Tryon’s interception, junior running back Sam Comer carried the ball to the end zone for the final touchdown of the game.
“Sam had a great run on his touchdown,” highlighted coach Diener. “Reco broke one, and that’s the one thing that we haven’t necessarily seen of his game where when he gets to the third level, he runs way faster. I think that’s going to be something new this year that he’s developed in his offseason work. he for sure. We’ve got to make sure that we keep getting him to that third level untouched so he can finish those runs.”
Following Comer’s score, reserve players for both teams trickled into the game as the final minutes of the game ticked off the clock.
“We definitely had the mentality that nothing is given to us, so we put in the hard work,” said Jenkins. “We wanted to execute, and that’s what we did this week. It was really good to bring out a win this first game of the season. A lot of people executed.”
After his own success on the night on offense, Jenkins tipped his cap to a defensive teammate. “Our other captain that we nominated, Sauren Folson, he really did good this game, even though he had a little injury, he still came and executed through what he had.”
Reifsteck noted the total team effort, including the shutout performance after Sherwood’s second touchdown, and the play of Holden’s offensive line.
“What stood out to me was when our defense finally started stepping it up,” said Reifsteck. “We started coming outside edge and started getting turnovers. The line definitely did step up their game today.”
Coach Diener summed up the marquee win on the newly remodeled football field by highlighting, “This town deserves great things and a great product on it. For the town to be able to vote yes and allow us to get these field upgrades and track upgrades, we have to come out and show now. Putting this win on it was absolutely the result we were wanting to show here tonight. I was so proud of the boys for taking advantage of that opportunity to give back to the community of how thankful we are for the service.”
Jenkins would end the game with 4 touchdowns and 181 total yards on 21 carries.
On offense, Reifsteck totaled 1 touchdown and 15 total yards on 2 carries. He also had 1 catch for 10 yards.
Comer toted the pigskin 8 times for 1 touchdown and 62 yards.
Senior Jayden Davis-Hacker handled 4 carries for 25 yards, Ryan Hough had 2 carries for 23 yards, Morarity rushed 3 times for 21 yards, Carson Agcopra had 1 carry for 5 yards, and Brody Bockover had 1 carry for 4 yards.
Morarity completed 7 passes for a total of 138 yards, and 2 touchdowns.
Drake caught 2 of Morarity’s passes for 40 total yards and 1 touchdown. Tevis had 2 catches for 55 yards and 1 touchdown. Siemer caught 2 passes for 33 total yards and made a catch on a two-point conversion.
On defense, Tucker Kauffman led in tackles with 10 total takedowns (7 solo, 3 assists). Wes Brown had 6 tackles, Jacob Andes and Justin Brown each had 5. Reifsteck also had 5 tackles. Trent Stout and Matthew Reynolds each totaled 4 tackles. With 2 tackles apiece were Siemer, Folson, Bockover, and Eli Burnham. Tevis, Davis-Hacker, Andrew Johnston, Chasen Hall, Aiden Christian, and Chase Zeller each chipped in 1 tackle. Andes and Burnham each had 1 sack. Tryon had 1 interception. Stout and Hall each had 1 forced fumble.
With the win over Sherwood, the Holden football team starts the season with a record of 1-0 with no conference games played to date.
This Friday, the Eagles host Mid-Buchanan. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.